Includes the World War Two On The Eastern Front (1941-1945) Illustration Pack - 198 photos/illustrations and 46 maps.
Operation BAGRATION took place during what the Soviet analysts consider the third period of the war: that of the Soviet strategic offensives which marked the ascendancy of the Soviet armed forces over the German Wehrmacht. During this period, the armed forces of the Soviet Union held the strategic initiative and used it to defeat the Wehrmacht, gain control of Eastern Europe, and invade Germany proper, meeting Allied forces on the Elbe River on 25 April 1945. The period is regarded as beginning Jan. 1944 and ending with the V-E Day, 7 May 1945.
By the beginning of 1944, the Red Army clearly had the initiative on the Eastern Front; moreover, since the beginning of the second period, the Soviet Union also had strong allies who could provide assistance in two ways: the U.S. and Great Britain...The invasions of Sicily and Italy followed in the second period, knocking Italy out of its alliance with Germany and diverting German forces to defend in Italy. The invasion of Sicily may also have contributed to the German decision to break off its Kursk offensives as well in July 1943...
In the third period of the war, therefore, the Soviet Union held the strategic initiative, and the year opened with the first two of what would come to be known as the “Ten Destructive Blows” of 1944: Leningrad and the Ukraine. The offensive at Leningrad commenced on 14 Jan. 1944 and ground to a halt on 1 March with the German siege of Leningrad broken, the German Sixteenth and Eighteenth Armies defeated, Soviet advances of up to 200 kilometers, and Soviet forces on the border of Estonia. The blow in the Ukraine commenced on 24 Jan. 1944, lasting until mid-April, and involved all of the fronts in the Ukraine. Finally, the various fronts were ordered by Stavka to go on the defensive between 17 April and 6 May to prepare for the summer offensive.